Music festival brings jazz to Blaine

Published on Wed, May 28, 2014 by Steve Guntli

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The name may have changed, but it’s still all about the music. 

The Drayton Harbor Music Festival camp, formerly Blaine Jazz Festival, takes place beginning Sunday, July 6 and goes to Saturday, July 12. The camp has been held in Blaine for 13 years. The camp offers a large staff of seasoned professionals from around the country who will teach up to 100 students to make and appreciate music of all kinds.

The Pacific Arts Association (PAA) has sponsored the event since 2001. Kristi Galbraith, executive director of PAA, says the decision to change the name has opened up the camp’s curriculum. 

“It was called the Blaine Jazz Festival for years, but it was never all about jazz,” Galbraith said. “We’ve added extra programs for classical and contemporary music to appeal to a broader portion of the community.”

Some of the new courses this year include classes in a cappella singing, musical theater and songwriting. The camp has also attracted a new sponsor: Semiahmoo Resort. In addition to their financial contribution, the resort will also host a number of concerts throughout the week, culminating in the Big Band Benefit on Thursday, July 10. 

The benefit will feature performances by the camp’s instructors, as well as accompaniment by the students. Tickets for the Big Band Benefit will cost $40, and can be purchased from the camp website.

The instructors attending the festival this year are an accomplished group of musicians who have played with many legendary talents in every corner of the world. Instructors like Dr. Lou Abbott, a drummer who has played with Winton Marsalis and Dizzy Gillespie, and Camille Bloom, a vocalist and guitar player who has played in prestigious venues across the U.S. and Europe, typify the quality of the musicians on hand.

Jon Mutchler is a former resident of Blaine but now lives in Ferndale, where he serves on the city council. He has been teaching jazz piano at the camp for 12 of the last 13 years. Despite being an accomplished musician with over 25 years of teaching experience and seven albums of solo piano music to his name, he remains modest about his abilities.

“Apart from me, the staff is actually really good!” Mutchler joked. He continues to return to teach at the camp year after year because he loves the area. 

“Blaine is such a great little city, and the camp offers so many activities and opportunities for kids,” Mutchler said. “It’s local, but it’s quality. It has a strong local flavor but a very professional style.”

In addition to the new courses, the instructors will share their expertise in musical theory, composition, improvisation, vocal solos, arranging, and eclectic courses such as “Let’s Rock” taught by Portland’s Chris Woitach, which focuses on blending classical jazz with high-energy rock and blues.

The camp offers daily free concerts from both students and instructors at the G Street plaza at noon throughout the duration of the camp. On Saturday, July 12, local vendors are invited to  sell their wares between G and H street plazas all day, and the community can enjoy free music from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The camp is limited to 100 students between the ages of 12 and 19, but Galbraith said the camp is ready to make accommodations for more students and is even willing to hire on one of Blaine’s many talented musicians as instructors. Tuition is $350. Students in need of room and board will pay an additional $400, and will be put up at Semiahmoo Resort’s Loomis Trail Golf Club. 

For more information concerning concert dates, teachers or tuition, visit